When I Went to a Football Match

by - 3:00 PM

When my ex-boyfriend and I split up, he left me with two good things: a friendship with Louise from Louise Chatters, and a (sort of) healthy interest in his football club, VVV-Venlo. I started following the matches out of pure necessity: a loss meant walking on eggshells and a depressed and/or irritated boyfriend. After the break-up, I kept following the matches out of habit. Both the sport and the team grew on me. I didn't know a thing about football, which made discussing it with my friend Stefanie all the more fun. She was pretty clueless too, but as she's from the Breda area we developed a friendly rivalry between her team, NAC Breda, and mine. This went so far that when I quit college, we promised we'd see each other again, next season at the match between NAC and VVV. It started out as a joke, but then something unexpected happened in January: we actually went to that football match.

On January 27th I took the train to Breda. I still couldn't quite believe what was going to happen that day. I hadn't been to a major league football match since early 2007. To say I'd enjoyed that match would be a lie. My classmates, with whom I'd attended the match, had either been mean to me or had ignored me the entire time. This match was going to be different though. I was going to see my team play for the first time, as I'd always followed matches on Twitter, and I couldn't be more excited to see the match with Stefanie. It was going to be an amazing night, I just knew it.

Just after 7pm Stefanie and I arrived at the stadium with her father-in-law, who'd gotten us the tickets. At that moment I finally fully realized what I'd gotten myself into. I was the only VVV supporter waiting in line with tons of NAC supporters. I'd be sitting right in the middle of them. During the wait, the bus with my team arrived and I freaked out. Supporters of other clubs might have put me into hospital right then and there, but not those of NAC Breda. Sure, they frowned or looked surprised. Some might have been annoyed. They probably just found it very weird But they let me be excited to see my team arrive and I appreciated that. 
The police must have found my excited behaviour a little suspicious though because the second I entered the stadium I was pulled out of line so they could check if I was carrying any illegal items. I laughed this off; I know it must have been weird to hear a girl with a western accent visiting a southern derby, shouting how much she likes the opponent.

The stadium was still mostly empty when we arrived at our seats. I immediately felt my vertigo kick in, as the stands were steeper than I'd ever expected. I was glad when a man sat down on the seat in front of mine: at least he'd break my fall if I went down. And falling down quickly became a real option, as Stefanie's father-in-law was kind enough to buy me a beer. Now I liked that beer, but it made me a little less steady on my feet. I already wasn't that steady anyway, because I was literally bouncing up and down with excitement. I don't regret drinking the beer though. I jokingly called it 'a way to blend in with the football crowd'.

In hindsight, I don't really know why I even tried blending in with the NAC supporters, as my continuous appreciation for VVV made me stick out like a sore thumb. I was actually quite proud of being there for my team, only more so when Stefanie's father in law introduced me to people with the words: 'This is Envy. She supports VVV and makes enough noise for an entire bus full of supporters.' I had to be that loud though, as there were barely any other VVV supporters there that night.

After about 45 minutes of waiting in the cold and watching players of both teams warm up (NAC already with shouts of support from the stands, while VVV was booed at right away), the match started. It was a goosebumps moment like I've never witnessed before. The stadium exploded with excitement and support, flags were everywhere and supporters were chanting songs and such. There was even a Carnaval song about flowers that got stuck in my head for days. On top of that NAC started the match strong. We sat behind the goal, just to the right of it, and had a perfect view of every attack NAC placed. Every single time NAC came close to the goal and VVV's goalkeeper had to make a move everyone around me would stand up, sit down when NAC failed to score, stand up, sit down, stand up, sit down. This happened so often in the first ten minutes that it felt like a workout. Lucky for me, NAC didn't manage to score in the first half. Neither did VVV. I have to admit I was shitting bricks though. NAC was strong and I loved the way they played the game, but I didn't want VVV to lose. They needed to move. I tried to keep most of my thoughts about my team to myself though. Not everyone around me seemed to be okay with me supporting the other team (an older man in front of me kept giving me death stares) and I wanted to show some respect to the people who were basically having me as a guest in their stadium that night. However, I couldn't help myself when the thing I'd been waiting for the entire night happened: my favorite VVV player got some playing time as the second half started.
'Opoku, my man!' I shouted, which resulted in another death stare from the old man in front of me. 'Now we're gonna score, just watch!'

The wind changed its direction in the second half. Rain came pouring down. Stefanie and I watched and watched, following Opoku's moves closely. By that time I was actually secretly hoping NAC would win. Like I said, that team was playing beautifully. VVV, on the other hand, was more like a brick wall when they were in the defense. And once that wall started moving forward, it was like an indestructible tank, pushing everything in its way aside. Not the kind of football I was hoping to see that night from my team.
Yellow cards were suddenly awarded left and right. As the second half passed by, players became more desperate and Stefanie and I saw our teams through rose-colored glasses: whenever NAC made some kind of foul move, Stefanie would yell that the VVV players involved were just being crybabies. When VVV pushed a NAC player to the ground I'd shrug and say: 'Barely touched the guy.'
Then, when I wasn't expecting it anymore, VVV came up strong. Approached the goal. And finally scored! While all the NAC supporters around me stood up, yelling and whistling angrily, I bent over and let out a silent victory scream. 0-1. VVV didn't give NAC another chance. We won.
'I told you I'm VVV's lucky charm!' I said to Stefanie. 'I told you we were going to win!' But deep down inside, I wished NAC had won, for the beautiful way they'd played that night.

Stefanie and I left the stadium in an adrenaline rush that night, one of us slightly happier than the other. It might have started as a joke, but it ended as an amazing experience. Right then and there we decided to go to NAC-VVV next season as well. We have no idea when that will happen (if it will happen at all, as NAC has been in the relegation zone almost all season), but I already can't wait. Here's to many more matches between our two favorite football clubs!

x Envy

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4 Fellow Ramblers

  1. I've never been a football fan but this was surprisingly interesting, and I'm glad you had fun!

    1. The funny thing is that I've never been a fan either! It's so boring to see a match on tv, but seeing it live in the stadium is something else entirely. I loved it.

  2. This sounds like a fun experience and it's nice to read that the other supporters accepted you too! Hopefully, the next match you can visit won't take so long 😉

    1. I was so glad they accepted me, even though I wasn't one of them, hahaha. Next season I'll probably get to see my team play twice!


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